Sleep, Please Sleep

What’s the source of all these sleep problems that we and our children are experiencing? 80% of these problems come from bad habits.    Fortunately though, they are several simple ways to help get our child’s sleep back on track.

 

So, Whose Fault Is It?

 

Parents that spend hours and hours every night trying to get their little one to sleep, get up in the middle of the night to calm him down and then still take their fussy child to bed with them, are finally at the end of their strength. But who is really the guilty one in this story? Is it really the child? What if he’s only the victim of the bad habits his parents taught him? It’s not easy for parents to accept this possibility, because they mean well and they are convinced that they are doing the best they can to help their child sleep. They sacrificed their privacy, their rest and their sleep – and everything still turned out differently then how they expected.

These parents need to know it’s ok, because child raising is a path that often has its questions, mistakes and dead ends. The good news is that it’s always possible to take another direction.

 

The start of a vicious circle

 

Of course it’s completely normal if a child wakes up at night. We have learned that such awakenings are caused by physiological processes and thanks to them, every child wakes up between two sleep cycles. For a child to calmly fall asleep again, he needs to have the same conditions as at night. We don’t need to stress that you have a big problem if your child falls asleep only if he’s riding in a stroller around the apartment or around the house, if you let him in your bed for a while or if he plays with his mom’s hair as if it were his favorite toy. Because then logically, your child will demand the whole „falling asleep process“ (in its every detail) every time he wakes up. This is truly cruel to all parents that let themselves be dragged into this adventure…

 

Missing boundaries

 

Another possible cause for sleeping troubles could be an absence of boundaries. We shouldn’t want a child to „test“ his parents to see how resistant they are. A child needs boundaries for a healthy development.  Contrary to what many people think a child expects a confrontation with a strong „no“. Without this obstacle, what are they going to rebel against?

A bottle = a trap

 

A bottle of juice, tea or milk, without which a child won’t fall asleep, can often become a trap. Every time a child wakes up at night, he demands something to drink. As a result of this, he will always have a full bladder, which will prevent him from calmly sleeping.

 

The pillars of peaceful sleep

 

The whole life story of a child basically revolves around the fact that a child needs to feel the same way as he did in his mother’s womb. We can achieve this by giving our child love and tenderness, while still setting boundaries that will define his living space. If a child goes to sleep at eight every night, it should not be open for discussion. If you let your child know that mom’s and dad’s bed is off limits, it should stay this way. It’s not easy to maintain these boundaries, especially if you’re tired, if you have a lot of work and you’re scared your child will loose affection for you if you’ll be too strict… However, if a child looses the sense of firm boundaries and rules, his sleep can become troubling

 

No other choice then to re-educate

 

What is cooked at home is eaten at home – you probably will need to teach your child everything from the beginning. At first he needs to get used to falling asleep without the help of another, without a stroller, a car or his mothers arms. Then, he needs to understand that at home, mom and dad have the final word.

During such a „re-education“, don’t forget to be gentle to your child and make time explaining everything to him. This is not punishment, but help that you are offering to the child. Don’t make him feel guilty – your job is to be a parent.

 

5-10-20”, the winning time limits

 

Richard Ferber, an American expert on child’s sleep, introduced a special technique „gradual learning“ to parents. He recommends following a bedtime routine and then leaving the child alone in his room, even if he’s crying. After five minutes, return to his room and tell him that it’s necessary for him to sleep alone; then leave again. Don’t touch him, don’t caress him and don’t give him anything to drink. If he keeps crying, wait ten minutes this time and then make another visit in his room. After you assure your child about your presence, leave again. Don’t come back before twenty minutes have passed; keep a watch in your hand. If the child is still crying, keep the twenty-minute intervals between each visit. If you try this shock therapy, the problem will usually be solved within four to five nights. But only if you follow all the rules and time limits! Of course that doesn’t mean you can’t change them a little if you have a particularly anxious child.

There are many circumstances that could bring on sleeping problems in a child: the birth of another sibling, death in the family, separation anxiety in the eight month, starting kindergarten or school, times when a child is learning basic hygienic habits of when he’s learning to walk.

What is the father’s role?

 

Some say that an overly tight bond between the mother and child can cause sleep disturbances. A child doesn’t want to go to sleep and separate from his mother and she also has a difficult time with physical separation from her child. That’s why a father can play a significant role. If a child cries, it’s up to the dad to calm him, because he won’t give in.  He should also help the child understand, that the mothers place is beside his father, not beside the baby’s crib

 

So many countries, so many customs

 

In many cultures, soothing a child is taken very seriously. Evil spirits could find a child thanks to his cries. For example, if a Chinese child cries at night, his parents write a magical formula on a yellow piece of paper. For this formula to have the right effect, it must be secretly put up on the street at midnight.

Putting Your Child to Sleep

Sometimes, a child needs to be calmed down after he eats in order to fall a sleep. Soft rocking or a lying in your arms can help him relax and fall asleep.

 

If you want him to fall asleep on his own, try to postpone these calming techniques until he is really fussy, or he’ll get used to it.

 

Sucking

A child often soothes himself by sucking, for example your clean pinky. Sometimes he sucks his own fist. If he wants a pacifier, give him one that has a natural shape. Try to take it away from him when he is 3 months old.

Calming Touch

You can calm your baby by rhythmically massaging his tummy. Don’t speed up the rhythm of the massage so that the baby doesn’t get alarmed and don’t stop until he closes his eyes.

Rocking

Rock your child in your arms until he falls asleep. It’s possible that he will wake up every time you stop and try to put him in his bed, but it’s still a proven way to get your baby to sleep.

 

Putting and older child to sleep

A child over six months old will be falling asleep easier if his whole routine of going to sleep stays the same every night  – babes like repetition and rituals.

A child of this age will have a harder time falling a sleep in an unknown environment and his sleep can be disrupted by any change, like a vacation, so try to keep up the normal routine even while you’re traveling. Make this occasion as comfortable and fun as your can.

 

Putting your child to sleep:

  • Every night, start with the same activity. Bathing is a good one, because it’s relaxing and fun at the same time. If your child doesn’t like bathing, a calm 20-minute game can be relaxing.

    Little girls sleep

    Little girl s sleep

  • If your child gets fed before going to sleep, feed him in his room, so he understands that his room is a nice place, not just a room where he is sent off to sleep.
  • Put his favorite teddy bear or another soft toy in his crib.
  • This is a good time to get the father involved; both of you should get involved in this night routine. The last half hour should bet he same every night, and should be the most comforting for the child.
  • Read him his favorite book so he can calm down; help him relax.
  • Don’t stop reading, even if it seems that he isn’t paying attention- he’s probably tired and doesn’t have the energy to respond to the pictures, but that doesn’t mean he’s not listening.
  • Wrap him up into his blanket along with his favorite toy and give him a kiss goodnight. Dim the lights or turn on the night-light. Don’t leave too quickly, stay in the room for a while longer.

 

Other methods:

 

Car ride

If you feel completely hopeless, try putting your child in his car seat and drive around the block – the movement of that car will probably put him to sleep. After returning home, carry your child inside in his car seat. Don’t forget to cover him with a blanket. Many parents believe that a car ride is a great method for putting a tired baby to sleep.

Lullabies and a rocking motion are old proven ways to put a child to sleep. A child doesn’t care if you can’t sing.

Recorded music can also help – a quiet calming music can help a child overcome his light sleep phase, out of which he wakes up easily. A child that doesn’t sleep well may appreciate music he could have heard in the womb.

 

Rhythmic movements

A child often falls asleep if we move the stroller back and forth even if he tries to stay awake and watches us. If this doesn’t help, try taking him out for a walk in the stroller. He should be well dressed and covered.

 

Wrapped babies

Wrapping up a newborn into light cotton blanked will calm him down. The room where baby sleeps shouldn’t be over 18 °C however. Don’t wrap your baby after he is one month old or you will restrict his movements and effect his movement development.

 

When should your baby go to sleep?

That depends on you and your partner. You should pick a time that suits you and that you can stick to every day. It should be a time when you both are at home, but shouldn’t be so late that it will take up your whole night. Pick a time between 6 and 8 pm to your baby to sleep.